Thursday, November 6, 2008

Non-Sinhala President for Sri Lanka??

I wonder how long it'll be before Sri Lanka is ready to elect a non-Sinhalese president? Well let's start with a non-Buddhist president!

I don't think it'll happen in the next 10 years, but I think it could in my lifetime ... it won't be easy given that we're currently in a big war but if the war stops soon, and economic development & integration accelerates then we have a chance to look beyond religion and race in selecting national leaders.

We of course had an incredible opportunity to have a Tamil person as prime minister (when Lakshman Kadirgamar was still alive) but that was lost apparently due to Sinhala right wing hawks who didn't want even that brilliant person to be the first non-Sinhala person in such a position.

Of course in the case of the US one cannot forget that Barack Obama is actually an inter-racial person. I'd settle for that for a start in Sri Lanka too - a person with Sinhala and Tamil parents, but with the person's dominant identity coming from the Tamil side (as with Mr. Obama) .. or Muslim side or whatever non-Sinhala Buddhist standard the country appears to insist on.

No no I'm not saying that we should elect a Tamil or Muslim or Christian or whatever person as president. Rather, when will it be when that aspect will be irrelevant and we will elect the person for their merits, policies and promise? Right now a non-Sinhala Buddhist simply has NO chance of getting to that position.


Aj said...

In our lifetime ? I doubt it. It took the 'land of freedom', a first world country; a generation to do so and its highly doubtful how many generations that will take us to do so.
As far as Obama goes I have my own theory of his victory.

1. His mixed race. Though his appearance is predominantly his fathers, he is nurtured primarily by his mom and grandparents. This makes him acceptable to most people on both races, even the people with the slightly racial feelings.

2. The economic crash. This is what turned the tide. Obama clearly convinced he is the capable guy to solve this crisis and McCain did not. People felt how it hurts when you are 'poor' and that made the difference. I'm sure if there was no economic problem we would have seen something like 2004 and an even more right wing and arrogant government ruling America.

If something like this to happen, I believe similar conditions should become true in SL. I don't know how they'll come about but it would become obvious when the pieces fall into the right places, though I doubt we'll see something of that sort in our lifetime.

Apart from all of this, my little knowledge of the Sri Lankan constitution tells me that a non-buddhist is disqualified from even running for the president. A story I've heard is that J.R. Jayawardena became a buddhist to run for president.

Kelum Prabath said...

When selecting a person as a national leader of a country, his or her race is not a key factor. Instead of that how far he/she is belong to the core culture of the country is concerned. In the case of Mr. Obama, his culture is (or at least he pretends so) Christian culture which is the dominant culture in US (as well as most parts of the world). If Mr. Obama's culture is Muslim the result would be changed. Don't forget that Republican party questioned about Obama's Muslim relations.
In the case of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, although he is a Tamil person he had accepted that Sinhala Buddhist culture is the core culture of Sri Lanka for long long years. That's why he had a good opportunity to become prime minister and JVP proposed his name for prime minister.
There is not any country having cultures in same level. All coutries have a core culture with othres. Leaders have to accept that culture to become national leaders. Even India's constitution says it's a secular, it's core culture in Hindu.That's why Mrs. Sonia Gandhi wears Indian traditional dress. Bolliwood films also show this.
If some non-buddhist leader accept the core culture (Sinhala Buddhist culture) of Sri Lanka, he/she can become president one day. Or else if the core culture of SL is changed (most probably it will be Cristian culture due to western influence through mass media, NGO's, universities, Tamil Racism...etc) non-buddhist leader can become president in future. I think the probability of second one is high.